This galaxy, called NGC 1097, is located 50 million light-years from Earth. with an eye-like object at its center harbors a hidden black hole. The ring around the black hole is bursting with new star formation. An inflow of material toward the central bar of the galaxy is causing the ring to light up with new stars..
The galaxy’s red spiral arms and the swirling spokes seen between the arms show dust heated by newborn stars. Older populations of stars scattered through the galaxy are blue. The fuzzy blue dot to the left, which appears to fit snuggly between the arms, is a companion galaxy.
Research from the Spitzer Space Telescope has revealed that the outer red zone of the Pinwheel galaxy lacks organic molecules present in the rest of the galaxy. The red and blue spots outside of the spiral galaxy are either foreground stars or more distant galaxies. The organics, called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, are carbon-containing molecules that help in the formation of stars. These hydrocarbons provide the raw material for carbon on planets, and can be formed into amino acids and nucleotides. This research suggests that life may be less common in the metal-poor outer regions of galaxies.
Far-ultraviolet light from young stars glimmers blue, near-ultraviolet light from intermediate age stars glows green, near-infrared light from old stars burns yellow and orange, and dust rich in organic molecules burns red. The small blue flecks outside the spiral disk of M33 are most likely distant background galaxies. This image is a four-band composite that, in addition to the two ultraviolet bands, includes near infrared as yellow/orange and far infrared as red.